The Splendours of Central AsiaUZBEKISTAN & KYRGYZSTAN
with Liz Gibson20 September 07 October 2014 (18 days)
TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS IN 2014M
Liz Gibson, Tour Leader
Former Senior Coordinator of Public Programs at AGNSW, Liz lectures on broad ranging aspects of art history and art appreciation. She has led many Art Gallery Society tours to Russia and Germany, as well as the Baltic States, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. Since her first tour to Russia, Liz has immersed herself in Eastern Europe and is currently exploring the cultures of Central Asia and their complex relationship with Russia, as part of both the Russian Empire and the USSR.
While Lizs tours take you on a journey of adventure and discovery, they are also designed for fun!
Central Asia is a fascinating blend of ethnicities and cultures, encompassing extremes of landscape from arid deserts to fertile oases, from vast steppes to majestic mountain ranges. For over two millennia, migratory tribes travelled across its vast territory in a heady mix of conquest, destruction and construction. At the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road, Central Asia absorbed many religions, including Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorianism and Islam, and many cultures as wide ranging as Greek, Persian, Turkish and Chinese.
This tour focuses on Uzbekistan, the undoubted jewel of Central Asia and the repository of the regions most impressive treasures. During the reign of the terrifying tyrant Tamerlane (Amir Timur), in the mid to late 14th century, Transoxiana, as the area of Uzbekistan was known, became the cradle of one of the largest empires of history and the birthplace of the some of the most arresting architecture in the Islamic world. As we travel across the vast territory of todays Uzbekistan, you will discover the architectural legacy of Timur and his successors, in the romantic oasis cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, ancient citadels strung across the desert like rare pearls, their turquoise tiled mosques, madrassahs and minarets dazzling in the distance. You will also discover a rich tradition of arts and crafts, such as intricately embroidered suzanis, hand woven silk carpets, miniature paintings and tribal jewellery, found not only in these desert cities, but also in the verdant valley of Fergana, famous for its distinctive ceramic ware and exquisite silk Ikat weavings.
At a glanceOptional pre-tour to Kyrgyzstan the green heart of Central Asia
Begin and end in the ancient and modern Silk Road trading city of Tashkent
Stay in the historic old towns of Khiva and Bukhara
Follow the golden road to Samarkand
Visit Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane and second capital of the Timurid Empire
Explore the traditional arts, crafts and textiles of the lush Fergana Valley
Map is a guide only
The Splendours of Central AsiaUZBEKISTAN & KYRGYZSTAN
In great contrast to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan also crossed for centuries by travellers along the Silk Road, is the lush heart of Central Asia renowned for its verdant landscape of mountains and lakes, popular with mountaineers, hikers and skiers. You will be pleasantly surprised not only by the stunning scenery but also by the warm hospitality of the Kyrgyz people, many of whom still live a nomadic existence tending their flocks and herds during the summer months. Traditional arts and crafts, particularly felt making, have been revived with many local enterprises flourishing once more. Like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan was locked within the USSR for over 70 years, as a result its cities retain a Soviet face. But the spirit of the Kyrgyz people still resides in their beloved majestic mountains and open landscapes.
Optional pre-tour to Kyrgyzstan
Sat 13 Sep 2014 Sydney SeoulMorning departure from Sydney on Korean Airlines to Seoul. Late afternoon arrival and overnight at Seoul Airport hotel. D
Sun 14 Sep Seoul TashkentMorning at leisure.
After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight to Tashkent, arriving in the evening. After immigration and customs formalities, transfer to your hotel.
The capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in Central Asia with a population of 2.3 million people, for centuries Tashkent has stood at the crossroads of the ancient trade route along the Silk Road. B L D
Mon 15 Sep Tashkent BishkekMorning at leisure until midday checkout and transfer to airport for departure on an afternoon Uzbekistan Airways flight to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan (approx. 1 hr).
Arrival in Bishkek, transfer to your hotel located in the heart of the business, government and cultural district of the city. B D
Tue 16 Sep BishkekJoin your local guide for a full day tour of Bishkek, located at an altitude of about 800 metres in the foothills of the Tien-Shan Mountains, along one of the ancient trading route of the Great Silk Road. Fortified in 1825 by the Uzbek khan of Kokhand, Bishkek was razed and rebuilt after annexation by Tsarist Russia in 1862. The city was renamed Frunze in 1926, reverting to its original name following independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
During the morning, see Ala-Too (the Central Square), Lenin Monument, Victory Square and visit the History Museum. After lunch visit the Central Asia Craft Support Association and see a felt making demonstration where you will learn about the two traditional types of rugs - Shyrdaks and Ali- Kee. B L
Ala Archa National Park Markets in Bishkek
1321 September 2014
Wed 17 Sep BishkekDrive a short distance out of Bishkek to the stunning Ala Archa National Park. Enjoy a walk and lunch in the spectacular Gorge surrounded by the Tien-Shan Mountains. Enjoy a performance withtraditional music.
Return to Bishkek in the early afternoon and visit the Fine Arts Museum, dedicated to Kyrgyz folk and applied art, and Russian andSoviet art.
Subject to performance schedules, it may be possible to attend a performance at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre, housed in grand monument of Classical architecture (not included in tour cost). B L
Thu 18 Sep Bishkek Issyk-kulDrive to Cholpan-Ata, a small resort town on the northern shore of Issyk-kul (Lake Issyk) 250 km from Bishkek (approx. 5 hr). With a length of 182 km and a width of up to 60 km, Issyk-kul is the second largest mountain lake in the world behind Lake Titicaca in South America. Located at an altitude of 1,607 m, the lakes southern shore is dominated by the rugged Teskey Ala-Too Range of the Tien Shan mountains. Check into your resort. B L D
Fri 19 Sep Issyk-kulEnjoy a day trip exploring the towns around Issyk-kul.
First drive to Karakol, which was founded as a Russian military outpost in 1869 and later boomed with an influx of Dungans, Chinese Muslims fleeing warfare in China.
Visit the grave, memorial park and a small museum dedicated to the famous Russian explorer Nicholay Przhevalsky who died here in 1888 while preparing for an expedition to Tibet. Followed by a visit the Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral and the DunganMosque.
Continue to Djety-Orguz, the extraordinary Valley of Seven Bulls, famous for its unusually bright, red sandstone rock formations. B L D
Sat 20 Sep Issyk-kulMorning visit to the Issyk-Kul Open-air Museum, featuring many petroglyphs dating from 800 BC to 1200 AD. The petroglyphs were carved and painted onto the surface of granite boulders, burnt black or brown by strong sunlight over thousands of years. Images of deer, goats, snow leopards, hunting and breeding scenes, all of different sizes, present an important source of information about Kyrgyz history and culture. Also, visit the nearby regional Museum with its modest but interesting history of Issy-Kul. Late afternoon and evening at leisure. B L D
Sun 21 Sep Issyk-kul Bishkek TashkentMorning checkout and drive back to Bishkek.
En route visit Burana Tower, a large minaret in the the beautiful, verdant Chui Valley. The tower, along with grave markers, some earthworks and the remnants of a castle and three mausoleums, is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun, which was established by the Karakhanids at the end of the 9th century.
Afternoon arrival at Bishkek Airport in time for a Kyrgyzstan Airways flight to Tashkent (approx. 1 hr). Following immigration and customs formalities, transfer to your hotel in Tashkent. B L
Tour PricesPer person twin-share AUD 4,250
Single supplement* AUD 850
Deposit per person AUD 250
Final payment due 22 July 2014
*Single travellers may request to share. Please advise at time of booking.
Tour code AG1419
Fitness level Above averageImportant informationBecause of local customs, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and other special meal requests cannot be catered for.
Tour price includes Flights SYDNEY SEOUL TASHKENT (if taking main tour
onair-inclusive basis)Overnight at Seoul Airport hotel on 13 September (only if
taking group flight)Accommodation in four-star hotels with daily breakfast.
Many other meals. Flights TASHKENT BISHKEK TASHKENT in economy class
(20 kg luggage allowance) Transfers on arrival and departure in Seoul, Tashkent andBishkekComprehensive sightseeing with local guides and drivers,
including entrance fees, as per itineraryTips and gratuities to local guides and drivers
Tour price does not includeMultiple entry indiv